Deputy President William Ruto would like his trial for crimes against humanity to continue at the Hague if he is allowed to be away some of the time.
Mr Ruto said he supports efforts to defer the cases, but would rather proceed with it if he is excused from attending all hearings.
“It would not be necessary for us to pursue the issues of deferral if we can get the issues of excusal sorted out,” he said. “Indeed, that is our preference because we are people who believe in the rule of law and we want to go ahead with accountability. We do not want to short-change the system.”
He spoke at a press conference in The Hague as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the African Union worked in tandem to finalise a petition to the UN Security Council asking for the Kenyan cases to be postponed.
“The paper work is being processed,” State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said by phone.
The move by Kenya to appeal to the UN Security Council arises from the resolutions of the weekend Special AU Summit in Addis Ethiopia, which declared that the cases against President Kenyatta and his deputy should be deferred.
The meeting mandated Kenya to write to the UN Security Council, with all member states appending their signatures, seeking for the deferral of the cases under Article 16 of the Rome Statute which establishes the ICC.
They also agreed on a delegation of five presidents, drawn from each of the regions in the continent, who will be accompanied by AU chairman Haillemariam Dessalegn and AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to fly to the UN Security Council to push for the deferral of the cases.
Should the 15-member UN Security Council, five of who are permanent, turn down their request, the AU will write to the ICC seeking for the deferral of the cases.
And if what they have termed as unfair treatment of the Kenya cases continues, they will convene another extraordinary AU Summit at the end of next month to announce far reaching measures.
Three of the five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council — France, United States and United Kingdom — voted against the deferral request the last time Kenya filed an application. This week, France President Francois Hollande, during a visit to South Africa gave an indication that his country may not change its position when he said the problem should be sorted within the ICC framework.
“If the African states have a problem, they should look at ways of solving it within the ICC framework. You should not accept impunity in this age,” he said.
A spokesman of the British High Commission in Nairobi, Mr John Bradshaw, had also said that the decision regarding deferral would be taken by the full UN Security Council session.
“We are studying the decision of the African Union and it will be for the full UN Security Council to make the decision,” he said.
In New York, senior legal advisors to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon are “carefully studying” the AU’s recent statements regarding the ICC, a UN spokesman said on Monday.
There was no explicit UN response, however, to the AU’s call for a one-year deferral of the cases against President Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr Ruto. (READ: Uhuru will not appear at the ICC until our demands are met: AU)
Article 16 was intended for use in exceptional circumstances and the Security Council has never deferred an ICC investigation or prosecution.
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the AU meeting “was obviously a very important one”. And he indicated that Mr Ban and other top UN officials have been holding telephone talks with African leaders in recent days.
The spokesman also reiterated Mr Ban’s supportive position regarding the ICC.
“The secretary-general believes that the International Criminal Court plays a central role in the efforts of the international community to ensure accountability and to end impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern,” he said.
Kenyan Ambassador to the UN, Mr Macharia Kamau said on Monday that he had no comment in response to a Nation query regarding Kenya’s lobbying of the UN Security Council.
Some analysts are meanwhile responding sceptically to a report in a British newspaper that Western diplomats were moving to meet the request for a deferral. (READ: Western envoys set stage for UN talks on Uhuru)
“I do not think it’s accurate,” said Brigitte Suhr, an official with a non-governmental organisation that does advocacy work on behalf of the International Criminal Court. “I believe it is making leaps from where the situation stands now.”
Mr Kenyatta’s case is expected to start on November 12 and it is still not clear whether he will be attending court.
However, the AU has given the UN and the ICC until that day to take a position on possible deferral of the cases.
But on Tuesday, Mr Ruto said: “Our preference is that we want these cases to proceed to their logical conclusion because we are confident that finally we shall be discharged of these allegations and we would be proven to be innocent because indeed we are innocent.”
—Reports by Bernard Namunane, Walter Menya and Kevin J Kelley